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CHAPTER XXXIII. - Gouverneur Morris, The Diary and Letters of Gouverneur Morris, vol. 2 
The Diary and Letters of Gouverneur Morris, Minister of the United States to France; Member of the Constitutional Convention, ed. Anne Cary Morris (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1888). 2 vols. Vol. 2.
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Examines the Liverpool docks. The king attacked on his way to Parliament. Stratford-upon-Avon. Letter to Lady Sutherland from Warwick. London. Presented to George III. Conversation with His Majesty. The House of Commons. Fox speaks. French affairs. Conversation with Lord Chatham. Count Woronzow. A great City dinner. Congratulates the Imperial envoy on the Austrian victories. Dines with Lord Grenville. Long conversation with him. Letter to Washington about Adams. Meets Canning dining at Lady Sutherland’s.
From the charming lake country Morris went to Liverpool, where he thoroughly examined the docks, “the finest in Britain,” and all the trade advantages possessed by that town. Then on through Manchester, where he inspected every machine, and the different processes by which the many materials were made, “which my guide,” he says, in the diary for November 2d, “tells me are vended all over the world, even in Turkey and on the coast of Barbary; but of the whole quantity exported, Mr. Taylor tells me, America does not consume one-fourth. The newspapers have announced to us yesterday a serious attack on the King in his way to the Parliament House at opening the sessions. This will, I think, operate unfavorably to the views of the Opposition. Their leader, Mr. Fox, is driven to an eulogy on existing systems which bestow practical liberty in contradistinction to those which, in pursuit of an ideal perfection, have produced anarchy, misery, and despotism. France begins at last to furnish useful lessons to mankind, and will give, I think, an example still more awful of the folly, the impious folly, of those idle, half-way reasoners who, with the supposed rights of man in a supposed state of nature—rights which cannot consist with society, the natural state of man—have bewildered the lower order of citizens and nearly destroyed all the relations of social life.”
From Warwick, where Morris arrived on November 18th, after spending a day at Stratford-upon-Avon, the following letter was written to Lady Sutherland, in which he gave her the benefit of his thoughts on that classic spot:
“MyDearLadySutherland: I received at Liverpool the letter you were so kind as to address for me at that place, and would have replied immediately had I known how to give any tolerable account of myself; but, as many zig-zag wanderings lay before me, I thought it best to be silent until time and chance, to whose absolute disposal I submitted myself, might put me in a situation to say that I hoped soon for the great pleasure of seeing you. I have had a month’s mind, or, if you like the phrase better, I had it in my mind for a month to write you a political epistle, and the impulsion was very strong after the criminal attempt of the 29th of last month, but I will confine myself to saying that, notwithstanding the ill news you expected, or any other which might come, I would have adopted the motto of my countryman the beaver—’Perseverando.’ You know he cuts down trees with his teeth. À propos: The late Austrian victories show what might have been done some years ago if everybody had been in earnest. I left Stratford this morning and the rain induced me to tarry here, instead of going to Coventry, for which I intend setting out to-morrow, and thence straight to London, ‘pour faire ma cour et rendre mes devoirs à la belle Écossaise.’ It would have been unpardonable, you know, to have spent an evening at Stratford and not written some nonsense about Shakespeare, but it is a crime of lèse société to pester others with such things. I ought therefore, you will say, to have thrown into the fire what I shall lay as a tax on your patience. Do not mistake. I send it not poetically, but medically. Supposing then that, after some very late hour, you should be awakened by the rumbling of coaches or of carts, with the disposition without the power to sleep, you will be pleased to read these lines, they must have the effect, for (foi d’honnête homme) I was half asleep when they were written. It is true, they have since been revised and corrected, so that you have the second edition. And so good-night sweet lady. My respects await his lordship. Adieu. I am ever and truly yours.
“After my arrival [November 23d] at the Great hotel, Covent Garden, I go to see Lord Gower. Dine at the Piazza coffee-house. I saw Boswell at the coffee-house, who is one of the corps. It seems that the opponents of administration cut their hair short, somewhat in the Jacobin style. The bills to secure the government meet violent opposition, and there is a general wish excited for peace. The Cape of Good Hope is taken by the English, but the storm has done much mischief to their West India fleet.”
“Agreed this day [November 25th] with Robert Dudley Medley as a footman. I give him livery, a great-coat, eighteen guineas per annum, and board wages. Thomas my coachman, is to serve me at 25/ per week and find himself everything. Dress and go to Lord Grenville’s office. Thence to Court. Lord Grenville arrives late. Am presented to the King, who takes me at first for an Englishman, and, not recollecting me, says, ‘You have been a good while in the country.’ We set him right, and Lord Grenville tells His Majesty that I was not liked by the ruling powers in France.
“‘I suppose Mr. Morris is too much attached to regular government.’
“‘Yes, sir, and if Your Majesty would send thither your discontented subjects, it would do them much good.’
“‘Well, if you’ll contrive it for me I’ll give my hearty consent.’
“Lord Grenville adds, ‘There are enough of them, sir.’
“‘Oh, aye, quite enough.’
“‘I can give Your Majesty good news from the Continent’ (says Lord Grenville). ‘General Claerfayt∗ is still following the French.’
“‘And I, sir, can give you a piece of intelligence which I am sure will be agreeable. I am informed from unquestionable authority that all the lower orders of people in Holland are strongly attached to the Stadtholder.’
“‘Oh, that’s good,’ with surprise.
“‘Sir, they have always been so.’
“‘Then it is only the aristocratic party which is against him.’
“‘Just so, sir.’
“’Pray, Mr. Morris, what part of America are you from?’
“‘I am from near New York, sir. I have a brother who has the honor to be a Lieutenant-General in Your Majesty’s service.’
“‘Ah, what! you’re a brother of General Morris? Yes, I think I see a likeness, but you’re much younger.’
“‘Well, and how does your brother do? he’s at Plymouth, isn’t he?’
“I afterwards see a petition presented to the King on his throne by the University of Oxford. Then go with Lord Gower to see Lady Sutherland. Thence to the House of Commons, return to Lord Gower’s, dine, and thence again to the House, where Mr. Fox delivers a very animated speech in reply to a very cool and sensible discourse from Mr. —. Mr. Pitt does not speak, for which I am disappointed. On a division the ministerial party has a great majority, and the affair is to be discussed again next Friday. Great acuteness on the part of Mr. Fox. The King asked me when I expected Mr. Pinckney back, and added, ‘They are very slow in that country.’ I could have told His Majesty of another country in which they were quite as slow, until lately at least, on American subjects.”
“M. Mountflorence comes in [November 26th] from Paris. He tells me that the French are quite heart-broken since their late scuffle with the Convention; that the present government is purely military; that Paris and Orleans are disarmed; that Lyons is a constant scene of bloodshed; that Freron is at the head of a strong Jacobin party in the South of France; that the Jacobins expect to overturn the present government in a month or six weeks, and that the want of bread is the lever by which they are to work. Mr. Hammond told me that Colonel Hamilton told him the day before he left New York that the demagogic party would have a majority in the house of Representatives. He also said that the government of this country are determined to give full effect to the treaty and to go on fairly to the further provisions which may be needful.”
“This morning [November 27th] my coachman, à propos of the sale of one of my horses, inquires the distance we have gone. I tell him after a tedious examination, but the result is somewhat extraordinary. My first sortie with them southward, including a double ride to Richmond while I was at Wimbledon, was just six hundred miles; and my second, after quitting Wimbledon, was precisely thirteen hundred, allowing one mile for the difference in the last stage between the standard from whence the roads measured and my lodgings at Covent Garden.”
“Go [December 1st] with Lord Gower to the House of Commons. There is no battle this evening. While I take tea in the committee-room, Mr. Windham comes in, and from his disposition to converse with me I am led to suppose that I am un peu en bon odeur ici. Mr. Pinckney has asked to be recalled.”
“Go to Court [December 2d], where I see, of course, a number of people, of whom I know a few. Have a little conversation with Lord Chatham, and mention for his consideration a progressive tax on the sales of wheat monthly, by way of paying the bounty on importation of foreign wheat; also a tax on all horses, by way of encouraging the breed of horned cattle. The Marquis of Buckingham is very civil, and invites me down to Stow. I put in his hands Mr. Mountflorence’s affair. The King tells me he hears Mr. Pinckney is coming back, re infectâ, the treaty being postponed for a year. I tell His Majesty that they don’t treat with us because they are afraid of us. He says there may be something in that.”
“I go to Court [December 3d], where I see Lady Sutherland, true to her promise, and looking wondrous well. Count Woronzow tells me an instance of Lord Grenville’s candor. It relates to the manifesto prepared for the new King. The Count has sent a copy of it and the history of it to his Court. He introduces me to Count Staremberg. Lord Grenville introduces me to the Duke of Portland, and tells me that Mountflorence shall have his passport. He presents me to the Queen, who is a well-bred, sensible woman, I think. Conversing with Lord Grenville about our treaty, I tell him that we must not covenant not to export the produce of the West India Islands, because our commerce will always give us an excess of those articles; that if I had to negotiate with him on the subject, I would almost venture to leave the settlement of the articles with him and the West India planters; that whatever may be the final state of the islands, and whoever may be the possessor, it must be his policy to convince us that it is our interest he should continue in the possession. He says that his opinion coincides perfectly with mine, and that he treated on that ground. I then tell him that in my opinion all difficulties might be removed if, after designating the size of vessels to be admitted, a further stipulation should be made of a maximum of export duty, the amount within that limit to be fixed by the King. His Majesty’s ministers would then, by their instructions to the governors, have it so fixed from time to time as to comport with the wants of the colony and the interests of the British navigation, without any reference to the colonial assemblies. He says he thinks something may be made out of that idea. He says Lord Bute informs him from Madrid that Mr. Pinckney is on his way back, having concluded a treaty of navigation (in which he supposes the affairs of the Mississippi to be settled), and leaving the treaty of commerce for another year. I tell him, as I did the King, that their fears prevent them from treating, whereas those very apprehensions should have induced them to treat. He agrees in this idea, and adds it is inconceivable how apprehensive they are. I tell him Mr. Pinckney has asked his recall, and that I do not think it improbable that Mr. Adams may be appointed minister here. As soon as the drawing-room is over I return home, change my dress, eat a bit of cold meat, and go to the House of Commons. I am again disappointed in not hearing Mr. Pitt speak. Stay till near three o’clock.”
“Go [December 5th] to a great City dinner, given to Mr. Hammond, and chance places me next to Lord Grenville and Mr. Adams. This last is deeply tinctured with suspicion, and sees design in everything. His mind has received early a wrong bias, and I think will always go obliquely. Mr. Bayard asks if I will give my assistance in the discussion of some questions arising here which regard the captures made. I promise it freely. He tells me that in a late affair Lord Grenville gave a remarkable proof of his candor. At our dinner, in the midst of the line of toasts he gave Mr. Jay, which was received with great applause. This, I think, will prove injurious to him in America, and mention that idea to Mr. Adams, who prims up, and, while his countenance (in general, insipid) overflows with joyful expression, he is silent; then says, ‘I don’t know,’ and then opens a little. From this I conjecture that his father and Mr. Jay are at political variance. The shouts of applause which accompany the King and Mr. Pitt as toasts show that the administration stands very strong in public.”
“Take up the Marquis de Spinola, and go to dinner at Count Woronzow’s at Richmond [December 7th]. We have here a very good and a very sociable dinner. The wine renders Spinola a little communicative. He tells me that Woronzow will never stand well at this Court, because Pitt will not forgive him for foiling his attempts in the Russian armament. He tells me why he stands well with Lady Sutherland. He tells me that he thinks the government here would be pleased that I should be appointed Minister, and in return I tell him why it would not suit me. I learn that Mr. Liston, who is going out to America, is clever. The weather is nasty.”
“Dine with Count Staremberg [December 9th]. He and Woronzow are quite in air about the King’s message declaring his disposition for peace. It seems to me to be a thing of no consequence. After dinner Woronzow gives us the history of the three partitions of Poland, in which, according to him, the Empress was led by a kind of necessity. He thinks, and so, indeed, do I, that it is unwise in the Imperial Courts to bring their dominions together. He and Count Staremberg tell me that the King’s Ministers expect the present government in France will be overturned by the Jacobins. After I leave this, I go to see Madame Ciricello. At coming away the Duke d’Harcourt tells me he understands the young Duke of Orleans is gone out to America, and that he was much distressed at the idea of leaving Europe. He says he had taken some measures to bring him into terms with the King of France, and has received that information. Wishes to know from me if it be true. I tell him (truly) that I know nothing of the matter. We promise each other to communicate the result of our inquiries.”
“News of the taking of Mannheim [December 10th] reached town yesterday. There are about nine thousand prisoners of war. This affair puts the Austrians in condition to act against the French with increased means, while it must tend to dishearten their opponents. I expect that they will turn their arms towards Flanders, and, if they can seize any considerable magazines of provisions, France will soon be reduced to her former limits. Holland must of course be abandoned, and then I think the counter-revolution will take place there as a thing of course. Go to see the Imperial envoy. Congratulate him on the Austrian victories. Lord Grenville gave him the explanation which I supposed of the King’s message. Converse with him on the general politics of Europe. He tells me that, from Claerfayt’s last letter, he will push on, but knows not, of course, which way. Dine at Mr. Phyn’s, and find that the ministers are gathering strength by the Austrian victories, and that the desire of peace grows less ardent. It appears from every account that the French armies are quite discouraged.”
“Dine with Lord Grenville [December 12th]. He tells me he was astonished that persons who had been here so long should be so little acquainted with the British Government as the Russian and Imperial Ministers appear to have been, by the alarm they took at the King’s message. He admits, however, that it may have the effect of strengthening the French Government in France, but he thinks, and justly, that the many other things which are happening must operate on the other side of the question. I tell him the advice I gave yesterday to the Imperial minister; viz., to send some confidential agent to Flanders, authorized to give money to those charged with the care of the French magazines, provided they do not, on the approach of the Austrians, destroy them. He thinks this good, and will enforce it. He says the French are evacuating Holland. After dinner I ask him to tell me the affair of Randolph.∗ He says that a despatch of Fauchet’s was taken in which was related a conversation between him and Randolph, and from that conversation it appeared clearly that Randolph had been corrupted. He had proposed a plan to render the Western insurrection a means of uniting America with France in the war against Britain. The rest of the story I had heard before. He tells me that he is not the only person in America; that he knows some others, and mentioned it to Mr. Jay, but did not name them, not being in a convenient situation to furnish the proofs, as he had acquired the knowledge from Paris. We converse on the state of the war, a general conversation (by the by, the company consists of only Hammond, Scott, and Lord Carrisford), and I tell him jocosely that I find the people in the City are not inclined to let him off easily, if he makes a bad peace. He answers, very candidly, that he thinks if a bad peace is made it must be their own fault. He considers the Cape of Good Hope as an important acquisition, and truly so it is. Trincomalee is also taken before this time, in all probability. Thus Britain is at length the complete mistress of the East. I take it for granted that these places will not be given up. Mention to Lord Grenville that it would be a pleasing thing to America if he procured the release of Lafayette. He says the prejudices here are so strong against him. Upon which I smile, and say the King has too much good sense to mind anything which may have happened. ‘Oh, yes, to be sure!’ ‘And as to anything else, you know, my lord, it depends entirely on His Majesty’s Council!’ I add that Lafayette is a person of great intrigue, and that with such a weight of obligation hanging about his neck he can in no decent manner act against the British interest in America, to which country he will get sooner or later. Moreover, keeping his own secret, it will be a good thing to come out with, when opposition shall be loud on the subject. Speaking of the minister appointed to represent this Court in America, he says: ‘Your friend Woronzow is very angry that I have taken Liston from Constantinople. He won’t understand that it is more important for us to have an able minister in America than at the Porte.’”
“The Imperial minister, who called on me this day [December 14th], tells me that the French have made a detachment of eight thousand men from their army in Holland, and it is from thence that a report has arisen of the evacuation. He says the English insist strenuously on their keeping Flanders. He thinks the King of France must be left on one side in the negotiation for peace, and that they must keep themselves in a situation to take advantage of circumstances which may arise in the interior. Call on Mr. Adams, who is a little entiché of the French politics. We dine at Mr. Church’s, and in conversing about our City dinner he repeats and urges, what he mentioned to me at the time, and Church thinks, that General Washington’s health was drunk at an improper time. All these things appear to be very small.”
In a letter to Washington, dated December 19th, Morris wrote in reference to Mr. Adams as follows:
“When I first saw Mr. Adams (understanding that he was empowered to negotiate with this country during Mr. Pinckney’s absence), I offered him any assistance which I could give, but, to my great surprise, he told me that he was here merely as a private individual. A day or two afterwards, Lord Grenville gave me very different information. We then conversed about what I conceived to be the policy of Great Britain. And let me say here that nothing will so strongly affect the government of this country as the view of an American navy, though in embryo; wherefore I do most ardently desire that something may be done this session towards its establishment.
“A strange story has been handed about here of a conspiracy between the French minister and others. I presume that it arose from the affair of Mr. Edmund Randolph, which Lord Grenville related to me; also the additional hints communicated by him to Mr. Jay for your use. I feel myself bound to communicate to you a circumstance which has some relation to the same object. Shortly after my successor arrived in Paris (viz., two, or at most three days) a person who was in the habit of telling me what passed called, and began a conversation by saying: ‘This new minister you have sent us will never do here.’ ‘Why?’ ‘He is either a blockhead himself or thinks that we are so.’ ‘I can’t suppose either to be the case, as I know him to be strongly attached to your revolution. I should think he would succeed very well.’ ‘No, it is impossible. Only think of a man’s throwing himself into the arms of the first persons he met with on his arrival and telling them he had no doubt but that, if they would do what was proper here, he and his friends in America would turn out Washington. If he meant to deceive us the artifice was too gross, and if he was in earnest that circumstance proves him to be unworthy of our confidence. Besides, he made this declaration to people who, though they stand high at present, must soon lose ground, for reasons I have already communicated.’ ‘I cannot believe the fact.’ ‘You may rely on it, ‘tis true. I did not hear him, nor have I yet seen him, but it was mentioned to me by one of those to whom he spoke immediately after it had passed, and I have taken the earliest opportunity to inform you of it.’ He then told me other parts of the conversation of him and of his secretary, particularly the latter, which ran counter to the views of the ruling party, although intended to flatter them.
“I own that, notwithstanding the clear and direct manner in which this was stated, I did not believe it, but concluded my informant to have been deceived. I took, however, the earliest opportunity to apprise Mr. Monroe that he was mistaken as to the temper and views of those in power, and to desire that he would recommend caution to Mr. Skipwith, leaving him to take to himself as much of the recommendation as he should think proper. I shall add nothing on this chapter, except my fervent wish and earnest exhortation that you do by no means resign. You cannot conceive how important it is to our foreign concerns that you should hold your seat. I dare say that you must see every day that it is essential to our dearest domestic interests. So God grant you health and inspire you with the determination to exercise that firmness and decision of character with which his Divine Providence has endowed you.
“I find this will be but a desultory letter, though I think you will glean something from it. You will have seen that M. de Puisaye is arrested by the royalists of the Western Coast of France. If it was not from treason it was certainly through great incapacity that he caused the failure of the Quiberon expedition. It was, indeed, too feeble, but the plan was his own, and though I think the minister here confided in him too much, that does not lessen his responsibility. I am persuaded that great efforts would have been made from hence in that quarter, and probably with effect; but the wild thunder manifesto of the new French King rendered it impossible to stand well in his favor. Hence a change of system became unavoidable, and the administration had reason to congratulate themselves that they had gone no further. The bringing back to the Vendée that victorious army which had dictated terms of peace to feeble Spain obliged the royalists to disperse and conceal themselves, but late transactions on the German frontier having obliged the French Government to re-enforce their armies, and send to that effect the troops which overawed Paris, those in La Vendée are, it seems, to replace them, and so the disaffected begin again to hold up their heads. It has not escaped your penetration that France is now a military government, and of course still in the straight road to single despotism, should she obtain peace with the Allied Powers, but there seems at present to be a very wide distance between her expectations and theirs. She doubtless is exhausted, but what convulsive struggles she may still make seems uncertain; in my opinion, not much. Austria is also much weakened in her finances. But this country is still fresh as a youthful bridegroom, of which nothing can afford a clearer proof than the present complaints among one party of the moneyed men that they had not permission to supply the minister with eighteen millions at £4 13s. 6d. per cent. interest. This new loan bears above ten per cent. advance in the market, although there is no covenant on the part of government not to open a new one. Indeed, it is expected that a considerable sum will be borrowed for the Emperor, and so high is the spirit of the people upon the late successes of the Austrian armies that he may have just as much as he chooses to ask for. It is on the ground of these superior resources that the well-informed here expect His Majesty’s ministers will be able to dictate their own terms to France. This could not be done should that country come forward and offer now to retire from Holland and Flanders, which, by and by, they will be forced to do; and even at present nothing will, I believe, prevent Marshal Claerfayt from attempting, at least, to march into the Low Countries but the well-grounded doubt whether he could seasonably collect the needful magazines for the subsistence of his army. It is expected every moment here that an express will arrive to announce the capture of Trincomalee and the valuable island of Ceylon. Great Britain will soon possess all the Dutch possessions in India which she may think it worth while to take. As to Santo Domingo, the elements have hitherto fought in favor of the French, and detained here the immense armament fitted out against it—not less than twenty-five thousand effective men. Let the success be what it may, the effort is wonderful. I have already assigned a sufficient reason why I say nothing on the subordinate questions depending between this country and us; neither will I say a word about Mr. Pinckney’s treaty with Spain, which you will doubtless receive before this letter reaches you. But I will drop one hint upon a great leading point; viz., the right of neutral powers to trade with the West India colonies of a belligerent power, upon a permission given by such power during the war. I will not discuss this as a question of law, neither would I ever or in any situation attempt to support what I conceive to be unjust. Yet, as a statesman, I will venture to say that this government is contending now for the very point which it is our interest to establish, and which would form our main reliance should we be engaged in any war against those who have such colonies.”
“Go to Wimbledon [December 21st] to dine with Lady Sutherland. Meet there Mr. Canning, the newly appointed Deputy Secretary of State, a young man of abilities. Mais la tête lui tourne un peu. We pass a pleasant afternoon and evening.”
“At three o’clock [December 30th] I go to Court, where I see the Dukes of Montrose and Argyll. Promise to call on them. The King is in high spirits. After the levee ride in the park; then change my dress, and call on the Duc de Castries. See Moustier, who is going to the coast of Brittany to see the state of things there and in Normandy.”
[∗]Count de Claerfayt, an eminent Austrian general, died in 1798.
[∗]Despatch No. 10 from Fauchet, French Minister in America, giving an account of the whiskey insurrection in Western Pennsylvania, was sent to his government at Paris by the corvette Jean Bart. Brought to, in the English Channel, by a British man-of-war, the captain saw that he must strike his flag, and threw the despatches overboard, where they were picked up almost immediately by a British sailor. Fauchet’s letter was sent to Lord Grenville, and through Oliver Wolcott, then Secretary of the Treasury, was put into Washington’s hands. He requested Randolph to defend himself. That day he resigned his office as Secretary of State.